The defining feature of the third day of the regatta was a gusty and shifty southerly wind that varied from less than 10 knots at times to gusts of more than 20. After a bright morning, a band of cloud with showers on its leading edge was moving eastwards towards Cowes, with very light winds forecast to follow in its wake. As a result, relatively short courses were set to make good use of the day’s best winds.
The Quarter Ton fleet started on a spinnaker reach, heading east from the Black Group line off the Royal Yacht Squadron. Yesterday’s winner, Louise Morton’s Espada, together with Eric Reynolds’ Magnum Evolution, were a couple of lengths ahead of the rest of the fleet at the gun. Lincoln Redding, Led Pritchard and Cat Southworth?s Whiskers was next, just ahead of Dutch boat Theo Bakker’s Freres-Sur-Mer.
Morton extended her lead on the first leg to Fastnet Insurance, but lost out to Whiskers and Olly Ophaus’s Cote on the following two laps around windward-leeward marks. “There were really fluky and tricky conditions,” said Morton, “but I had some really good brains on board, including Andrea Brewster, Nicky Macgregor and Mary Rooke. It was really helpful to have their expertise to spot wind shifts and identify which boats to cover”‘ Espada’s crew worked really hard to regain the lead on the last windward leg, and crossed the line nearly three minutes ahead of Cote to take their second win in three races
In the Sigma 33 class Allan Fraser’s Prospero of Hamble and Mark Watkins’ Spirit of Kudo led away from the start. Spirit of Kudo hoisted her spinnaker at the gun, losing a couple of lengths in doing so. Two minutes later Prospero also hoisted and soon every boat was flying a spinnaker. Prospero then pulled out a 10-length lead, with Stuart Brand and Emma Gage’s Ephesian, the winner on the first two days, a further 10 lengths behind in third.
Ephesian eventually overhauled both Prospero and Spirit of Kudo, but was denied a third win by Jeff Worboys’ Workout, which finished with a lead of almost three minutes. Prospero was third, finishing 81 seconds behind Ephesian.
One of the more crowded starts on the RYS Black Group line today was for the 31 yachts in IRC Class 6. Starting towards the northern end, Ed Browne and Nick Daniels’ First 32 Gravity Boots initially led the fleet away. A few lengths behind her was Simon Cory’s Cory Yachts 290 Icom Cool Blue, she already had the spinnaker up on the tight reach, but at this stage it was only filling intermittently.
Next was Ian Braham’s MG346 Enigma, again with her spinnaker hoisted, but unable to get it filled in the disturbed air around the fleet. Having extended her lead on the boats struggling with spinnakers, two minutes in Gravity Boots hoisted her kite, but it filled in a gust and she rounded up in a spectacular broach that allowed Icom Cool Blue to get past.
At the same time another boat, Mark Brown and Justin Leese’s Figaro Black Diamond, was quietly pulling through to leeward of the fleet. For a couple of minutes she and Icom Cool Blue were neck and neck, but then Black Diamond pulled ahead and continued to extend into a useful lead on the water.
She was ahead at the finish, taking line honours more than a minute and a half ahead of Enigma. However, on handicap Black Diamond was unable to save her time on either Enigma or on one of the lower-rated yachts in the fleet and the oldest yacht at the regatta, Sir Michael Briggs? Clyde 30 linear rater, Mikado, which dates from 1904.
Battle of the dayboats
White group competitors had another day of intense competition, with two classes standing out among the many close races. In the Flying 15 fleet Paralympic sailor Andrew Millband and Tony Hastings’ Fifty Fifty was the only boat to record two podium scores in the first two days of racing and today proved just as tight, with the first four boats just 63 seconds apart at the end of their two-hour race.
Mike Boll and Gil McCutcheon’s Ffuraha notched up their first win, finishing with a 47-second cushion ahead of Alex and Mike Tatlow’s Affore the Weak. Five seconds later Fifty Fifty was next across the line to take third place, with Nick Clarke’s Black finishing 11 seconds later to take fourth place.
In the Squib class start, Jim Holdstock and Ray Prime’s Jess looked clear ahead of the fleet on port at the outer end of the line, although Martin and Anne Harrison’s Hussar was also very well placed, as were Peter Wilson’s Crazy Diamond, and Duncan Grindley and Dave Ross in Surprise. A few boats tried spinnakers on the tight reach across the Solent to Lepe Spit, but quickly realised it was not a speed-enhancing decision.
Hussar rounded the first mark with a five-length lead over Jess at the start of a long downwind leg into the eastern Solent, sailing as close as possible to the north shore to gain relief from the ebb tide. “There was a Redwing that went aground twice in front of us,” says Harrison, “so we knew where the edge of the bank was. But even then we scraped the bottom and heeled hard over to get off.”
As soon as the boats behind saw this, the entire fleet headed for deeper water, simultaneously changing direction like a flock of birds. On the next leg, a windward one to East Knoll buoy, Hussar initially stayed slightly to the right hand side of the course and lost a couple of places to boats on the left. On the last windward leg to Seafarer Ale, Hussar stayed to the right, waiting for a big wind shift before tacking onto starboard. The strategy worked and she rounded the final mark, Seafarer Ale, with a 50-metre lead.
“It was really hard work, one of the hardest races I’ve done in a long time,” said Harrison. “The wind was all over the place, so we were always looking at the numbers [compass heading] and constantly trimming the sails. But it was very rewarding for us.”
Today was also a close race for many others in the class six boats rounded the second mark simultaneously, and three boats Jess, Chris Gear and Andy Faulks’ Osprey, and Kevin and Marney Gibson’s Satu rounded the last mark together and were only 32 seconds apart at the finish. Places eight to twelve were then decided by just 51 seconds.
Report by Rupert Holmes
Bright sun and a brisk east to south-east wind averaging 15-20 knots, but with gusts above 25 knots, provided exhilarating conditions for the first day of racing at this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.
With the strongest gusts forecast to be in the Eastern Solent, the dayboats in White Group classes starting from the RYS line were sent on a downwind leg to a course in the western Solent, before beating back to finish on the RYS line.
The early White Group classes to start had the last of the ebb tide sweeping them over the line, with most competitors taking a very cautious approach. In the Daring class almost the entire fleet was heading away from the line with only 20 seconds to go. Roger Marwood and Mike Bilbo’s Audax, skippered by Steve Sleight, looked as though they planned to make a break from the pack, starting to hoist the spinnaker early, but were forced to luff by a boat below.
At the gun, David Christie and John Mulcahy’s Finesse, Robin Richardson’s Division Belle, and Giles Peckham’s Dauntless were almost abreast of each other at the outer end of the line, just ahead of the pack. The fleet soon spread wide across the racetrack as they headed towards Cowes Radio, their first mark, off the Beaulieu River.
Division Belle was unable to maintain her initial advantage, but it was a good opening day for Peckham, who has won the class four times in the past five years. He took the winning cannon, more than two minutes ahead of Finesse, while Jeremy Preston and Mark Fear were third in Defender, another 32 seconds later.
The Dragon fleet includes a number of world-class sailors and the leading boats were pushing as hard as they dared at the start. Although already close to the line, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa was first to hoist a spinnaker, 10 seconds before the gun, and was swiftly followed by Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee. Sandwiched between the two was Chris Brittain’s Bear, which gybed onto a parallel course between them before hoisting, but a wrap round the furled genoa cost a few valuable seconds.
Initially the advantage went to Jerboa, who led round the first mark, Cowes Radio. However, she overstood the layline on the approach to the Gurnard Sailing Club mark at the end of the first windward leg, allowing Brittain to get through.
At that stage Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee was very close behind Bear, but their spinnaker was damaged on the drop and exploded on the next run, giving Bear an easier run into the finish. Yet she crossed the line only 16 seconds ahead of Eric Williams’ Ecstatic. 80-year-old American Edward Sawyer, who’s back in Cowes for the first time since breaking his neck during the Dragon Edinburgh Cup six years ago, took third place in Clairvoyant, crewed by Martin ‘Stavros’ Payne and Pedro Andrade.
It was an intensely close race throughout, with only 86 seconds separating the first four boats. Brittain, who now lives in Bermuda and was sailing a chartered boat with his wife Jilly, said afterwards: “It was a really great race a bit more hairy than we were expecting, but really exciting. It was also fantastic to finish on the RYS line and get a gun that’s what Cowes Week is all about.”
Thirteen RS Elites are racing this week in advance of the national championship that will be hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron. Although the fleet was all clear at the start, a fraction of a second before the gun Martin Wadhams’s Kiss swerved away from the line to be sure of not being over, allowing Jono Brown’s Aeolus to take an early lead. Chris Preston’s Limelight, just to leeward of Kiss, also pulled away as the fleet sped downwind under asymmetric spinnakers.
This class has often posted some of the closest racing at Cowes Week and today was no exception, with five boats, representing places three to seven, crossing the finish within 50 seconds. Crauford McKeon’s Kandoo lll was first home, one minute 42 seconds ahead of Wadhams. Third place was taken by Freebie, sailed by Tom Montgomery, Sonny Mallet and 1968 Olympic gold medallist Iain Macdonald-Smith.
High speed rivalry
There were spectacular conditions in the eastern Solent for the yachts in Black Group, with even the smallest boats surfing downwind at double-digit speeds, aided by the wind against tide induced short, but steep, waves. The big boats saw much greater speeds, with the TP52 Toe in the Water that’s crewed by traumatically injured servicemen hitting 21.9 knots.
Classes starting from the main Black Group line started heading east from a much shorter line than in previous years. With the tide in the deep water still ebbing, the northern end of the line appeared slightly favoured, offering useful tidal relief on the south side of the Bramble Bank as they beat upwind to the eastern Solent.
At the start of IRC Class 1, Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 40 Peninsula Signal 8 appeared to be in pole position close to northern end of the line, followed by Mike Greville’s Ker 39 Erivale lll, and another Ker 40, Nigel Passmore’s Apollo 5, and Michael Bartholomew’s King 40 Tokoloshe.
These were also the top four boats on corrected time at the end of the three and a half hour race. Apollo 5 took line honours, just over two minutes ahead of Peninsula Signal 8, with the two boats also taking first and second on corrected time, with Tokoloshe third.
In IRC Class 2, Duncan McDonald and Phil Thomas’ J/111 Shmokin’ Joe, Andrew McIrvine’s First 40 La Response, Richard Göransson’s Corby 36 Inga from Sweden and Joe Bottomley/Oliver Heer’s First 40 Sailplane led the fleet away, all starting towards the northern end of the line.Shmokin’ Joe, Sailplane and Inga from Sweden were the first three boats to cross the finish line, but all had been among the seven in the class that were OCS at the start.
This left Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43 Trustmarque Quokka to take line honours, 58 seconds ahead of Steve Cowie’s First 40 Zephyr. However, Rutter was not able to save his time on Zephyr, who took first on handicap, with Rutter second and another First 40, David Vines Carpe Diem third.
The strong winds meant some gear damage was inevitable, including torn sails and at least one dismasting, however few classes saw more than one or two retirements. The main exception is the 83-strong 101-year-old XOD class, which struggled in the strong wind against tide conditions. Competitors will remember the opening day for sun, the exhilaration of fast downwind sailing with the occasional spectacular broach, and some really close racing.
Report by Rupert Holmes
Franck Nöel’s TP52 Near Miss (SUI) has been confirmed as the overall winner of the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup.
A big boat race was predicted ahead of the historic 60th edition of the race from Saint-Tropez to Sanremo. And so it proved. Yesterday morning, the 100-foot Maxi Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) smashed the four-year old race record by over three hours, completing the circa 242-nautical mile course in 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds. Near Miss was the fourth fastest boat on the water, finishing just 31 minutes outside of the previous race record. As most of the Maxi fleet (yachts measuring over 60-feet) made short work of the course, the drop in conditions throughout yesterday ensured that the smaller boats still at sea could not surpass the corrected time set by Nöel’s predominantly French crew.
Prevailing from a fleet of 170 international yachts, victory capped a successful week for Near Miss following her impressive performance during the three days of inshore racing in Saint-Tropez. Nöel cut an ecstatic figure: “It was an extraordinary race and we nearly beat Alfa Romeo’s record with a 52-foot boat. It was at the very limits of comfort, we got very wet! Near Miss is not a boat made for offshore racing, more for inshore, but we are very happy to have done it.” Nöel has form at the Giraglia Rolex Cup having also claimed the combined inshore and offshore race prize in 2010.
Near Miss can count on the experience of America’s Cup yachtsman Karol Jablonski. “It was a very exciting race – the conditions were very extreme,” confirmed the Polish sailor, a recent addition to the team. “We anticipated the changing winds and the crew did an excellent job in changing sails so we didn’t waste time. The boat always went at the maximum speed possible according to the conditions.” As helmsman, Jablonski had a unique view of the race. “It was very wet as I was the guy sitting furthest forward – it was like a cold water Jacuzzi or whirlpool!” Whilst Near Miss celebrates, the elements proved demanding for much of the fleet with around fifty crews forced to retire from the race.
Near Miss will be presented with the Rolex Challenge Trophy and a Rolex timepiece during tomorrow’s prizegiving at the Yacht Club Sanremo, the final act of the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup.
The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organized by the Yacht Club Italiano, in conjunction with the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and the Yacht Club de France, prestigious organisations with well-established ties to Rolex.
John Cook, owner of the English Cristabella boat saga, and one of the most loyal fans and participants of the MedCup Circuit, passed away in late April after a long struggle with a disease that eventually took him away, despite him being a born fighter, as he demonstrated both on land and at sea.
The memory of the Cristabella saga and its owner John Cook will remain forever linked to the sea, the Mediterranean, the TP52 class, and the MedCup Circuit. The TP52 Cristabella was part of the fleet which started off the competition in 2005, and remained faithful to it, taking part in almost all its events, until she had to leave due to her owner’s health problems, the same that would finally cause him to pass away in late April.
English by birth, Cook ran under the flag of the Real Club Náutico de Palma, and was a “classic” sailor. In fact, the TP52 Cristabella was easily recognizable not only by her white hull and blue letters, but by her rudder wheel, which had not been replaced by the tiller, as it had already happened onboard the whole MedCup Circuit fleet in recent years.
John Cook’s is indeed an irreparable loss to the world of sailing, but his name will live on in the history of racing in the Mediterranean.
The 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was notable for an unexpected winner of the coveted line honours trophy, a worthy overall winner and a slow passage home for the smaller boats.
The Boxing Day start of the 628 mile race south to Hobart was spectacular, with the 88-strong international fleet setting off from the heart of Sydney Harbour, with its iconic bridge and Opera House as a backdrop. The Heads and shoreline were teeming with spectators as news helicopters flew overhead. Leading the charge on the beat out of the Harbour was Bob Oatley’s maxi Wild Oats XI, the line honours winner in five out of the last six Rolex Sydney Hobarts.
Weather-wise the start of the race was fairly conventional with some fast running conditions for the afternoon, but with a dramatic 180 degree wind shift into the south forecast for the first evening. A swell from the north generated by the ex-tropical cyclone Fina, combined with this wind shift, created a horrific confused sea on the opening night, as the 30 knots southerly wind kicked in with a punch, gusting up to 40 knots. But it is these brutal, testing conditions competitors expect when they set out on the Rolex Sydney Hobart and give the event its reputation as one of the world’s toughest offshore yacht races.
For the crews it was a case of battening down hatches and muscling through and by the first morning there was an impressively low attrition rate with just two retirements. They were joined later by a third, the 2003 line honours winner Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing, suffering sail damage.
24 hours in and race favourite for line honours, the Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI ,was 11 miles ahead of Anthony Bell’s maxi Investec Loyal, these two having broken away from Peter Millard’s Lahana with singlehanded round the world sailor Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss holding fourth on the water. On IRC handicap Roger Hickman, an old hand in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, competing in his 35th race, had pulled into the lead aboard his 1993 race winner, Wild Rose.
For this Rolex Sydney Hobart Wild Oats XI had been ‘turboed’ with the addition of new twin daggerboards and a larger square-topped mainsail, but her dominance as the fastest boat in the race was called into question when at 20:00 on the second evening of the race she was overtaken by the similarly-sized, but older, Investec Loyal.
With the wind lightening and backing from the southwest into the southeast, so Wild Oats XI was caught in a wind hole. Her co-navigator, Ian Burns explained what happened: “They [Investec Loyal’s crew] were keeping track of how we were doing and the moment we stopped under a cloud with no wind under it, they basically sailed right around the outside of this large hole we were stuck in and came back above us. It was good work on their part.”
The theoretically faster Wild Oats XI managed to catch up and overtook Investec Loyal at 07:30 on the second morning of the race as the two boats were sailing down the east coast of Tasmania. For the rest of the morning followers of the race were on the edge of their seats as the two boats match raced around the remainder of the course.
As they rounded the south side of Tasman Island, so Wild Oats XI was becalmed again and, taking their chance, Investec Loyal once again pounced, sailed around the outside of them to regain the lead. Crossing Storm Bay and sailing up the Derwent River to the finish, the Wild Oats XI crew, sailing with many of Australian yachting’s elder statesmen and women on board, threw all they could at Investec Loyal, but it was not enough. Investec Loyal crossed the finish line at 19:14:18 local time, after 2 days 6 hours 14 minutes and 8 seconds at sea, just 3 minutes and 8 seconds ahead of Wild Oats XI. This was the fourth closest finish in the 67 year history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
Unfortunately celebrations were dampened when the line honours winner was protested by the race committee. This was over a conversation between Investec Loyal tactician Michael Coxon and a helicopter pilot on the first morning of the race in which Coxon enquired about whether the mainsail or the trysail was being used on board Wild Oats XI. Investec Loyal’s line honour victory was finally confirmed when, after a three hour long protest hearing, the International Jury concluded that Coxon, in his capacity as Managing Director of North Sails Australia, had made the enquiry about Wild Oats XI’s new 3Di mainsail for professional reasons and this in no way had benefitted Investec Loyal’s performance during the race.
“It was one of the great experiences in my life,” said Anthony Bell, Investec Loyal’s owner and skipper of his win. “The whole thing from the very start, right through to the finish line, was exhilarating. It was a really tough fought out race, but the crew believed in the boat and the cause right from the start and we are so happy to have got past the finish line first.”
Bell’s campaign doubled as a vehicle to raise money for charity (it raised Aus$ 1 million in 2011) on this occasion for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, which purchases vital medical equipment for 178 children’s hospitals around Australia and East Timor. For this reason among their crew were a number of celebrities including sports stars, such as Australian rugby union internationals Phil Kearns and Phil Waugh.
As the slower boats were becalmed in Storm Bay and up the Derwent River, so it became evident that this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart would be one for the smaller large boats, including the competitive 50ft fleet. However the stand-out boat in this size range was Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63, Loki. Over the last 18 months this has proved to be one of the most successful campaigns in on the Australian circuit. Under IRC, Loki’s corrected time was 50 minutes faster than that of Michael Hyatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll, with 84 year old Syd Fischer’s modified TP52 Ragamuffin third and the Cookson 50 Jazz of Britain’s Chris Bull, fourth.
“We are elated. It is a fantastic feeling, a huge thrill to win this race,” said a jubilant Ainsworth, after being presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece by Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia and the coveted Tattersall’s Cup, for winning IRC handicap honours. “Having done 14 races, I know how hard it is to win this race. So many things have to go right for you and the wind gods were with us. Our race went extremely well. The aim for the navigators was to avoid stopping and we successfully did that, although we came close a couple of times. Look at what happened to Wild Oats XI – that could easily have happened to us.”
Ainsworth’s crew, led by Irish round the world sailor Gordon Maguire, was 18 strong, but of these only one third were professionals. “The handicap win came when the big boats parked up,” said Maguire. At one point the maxis had extended to almost 120 miles in front of them, but as they had slowed, so Loki had managed to reel back 60 miles.
Earlier in the race the competitive 40 and 45ft Beneteaus had been among the most promising on handicap along with Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose. However the progress of the smaller boats was hampered as the wind shut down for them as they manoeuvred around the east coast of Tasmania into Storm Bay and up the Derwent River leading up to Hobart.
Darryl Hodgkinson, skipper of the First 45 Victoire summed it up best: “I thought it was going to be a carbon copy of last year’s race where we sat in the Derwent. This year we actually camped in Derwent! The last miles from the Tasman Light to the finish typically take six to seven hours. On this occasion it took 15.”
A pre-race favourite among the smaller boats was the new Ker 40 AFR Midnight Rambler, but co-owner Ed Psaltis, winner of the race in 1998, said they had made some wrong tactical choices and, entering Bass Strait, ended up in a giant wind hole, entrapping them for six hours.
While there had been a strong turn-out in Hobart’s Constitution Dock to witness the end of the match race marathon between Investec Loyal and Wild Oats XI, this was rivalled when Australian youth solo round the world sailing phenomenon Jessica Watson arrived aboard Ella Baché another Challenge. Watson’s crew have now entered the history books as the youngest to take part in the Rolex Sydney Hobart, but having spent two and a half months training as a team prior to the start Watson was delighted with taking second place in the Sydney 38 class.
“It was really, really good, everything you would expect,” said Watson on her arrival. “We had three quite bouncy nights on the nose. We didn’t see any severe conditions, but there was some pretty uncomfortable stuff for quite a while there.”
Having previously sailed solo, Watson was full of praise for her crew. “The crew were awesome. It was the best sailing we’ve ever seen them do. It’s what we have been training for and they did exactly that. Everyone did an amazing job. All credit to them – I just held on for the ride.”
The last boat to arrive, crossing the line late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, was that of Sydney boatyard owner Sean Langman. Langman is best known for his attempts to win line honours in previous races, but on this occasion was sailing the wooden 1932 coastal cruiser/fishing boat, Maluka of Kermandie as crew for his 18 year old son Peter.
This year’s race once again proved that to earn victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart is something that takes persistence. As Gordon Maguire concluded: “I won this race in 1991 on an IOR 2 tonner Atara with Harold Cudmore. It was my second Hobart race and I thought ‘easy’. It has been 20 years since I won it again. I have won an awful lot of regattas in between and I do this race almost every year, so it is not an easy race to win. You can’t just come down here with the best boat in the world and win it. You have to come down here with the best boat in the world and have all the luck in the world – all that has to happen in the same race. It is a very unusual beast.”
The serious countdown to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has officially begun, with the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge taking place on Sydney Harbour today.
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is traditionally one of the busier days on the Harbour for spectator vessels. This year the 15 or so entrants, ranging in size from 100 foot super maxis to 50 foot grand prix racers can expect less traffic around them, but a ton of on board action.
“It’ll be an exciting race,” said Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards yesterday as he and Wild Oats XI’s race crew were preparing to don wet weather gear and complete a practice run around the 14 nautical mile SOLAS Big Boat Challenge track, which today takes them two and a half times around Sydney Harbour to the finish off the Opera House.
For the sailing novices on Anthony Bell’s 100 foot INVESTEC LOYAL, today’s challenge will provide some insight into what might be around the corner come Boxing Day. Olympic wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley, Roosters five-eighth Anthony Minichiello and Channel 9’s Karl Stefanovic will taste plenty of salt water and better understand the rigours of ocean racing when they join rugby legends and past participants, Phil Waugh and Phil Kearns, and the rest of the professional race crew for today’s SOLAS Big Boat Challenge. Former racing great and record breaking winner Neville Crichton will also join Anthony Bell’s loyal for SOLAS big boat race.
Peter Millard, co-owner of the 98 foot Lahana arrived back on a flight from the US yesterday and when told of today’s forecast, said, “Then we definitely need to go out training today.”
Two of Lahana’s 21-strong crew have flown in from Europe and a handful more have arrived from interstate to take part in the annual Harbour spectacle, with the largest yachts in town preparing for the 12.30pm start off Steele Point, Vaucluse.
“It’ll be good to have testing conditions today, but we won’t be taking any risks that might put a speed bump in our Rolex Sydney Hobart preparations,” said Millard. “We want to see a lot of pressure today and for the great race. We’re hoping for a southerly all the way to Hobart.”
Making her Australian debut in the race will be Victorian Rob Hanna’s recent acquisition, theTP52 Shogun. Hanna purchased the near-new former Audi Azzurra from Europe, where it has been successfully competing on the MedCup circuit. Hanna’s main intention is to beat the other Australian ownedTP52’s at major events, including Marcus Blackmore’s Hooligan, which is also contesting the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge.
List of Entries
|5980||FUTURE SHOCK||Craig||Ellis||Elliott 57||1.3500|
|SYD100||INVESTEC LOYAL||Anthony||Bell||Elliott 100||1.911|
|10081||LAHANA||Millard/||Honan||Bakewell White 30m||1.683|
|AUS60000||LOKI||Stephen||Ainsworth||Reichel Pugh 63||1.517|
|SM11||SCARLET RUNNER||Robert||Date||RP 52||1.363|
|NOR2||SOUTHERN EXCELLENCE||Andrew||Wenham||Volvo 60||1.3200|
|SM24||TERRA FIRMA||Nicholas||Bartels||Cookson 50||1.327|
|10001||WILD OATS XI||Robert||Oatley||Reichel Pugh 100||1.954|
|M10||WILD THING||Grant||Wharington||Jones 98 Maxi||1.805|
To view the course maps go to http://www.cyca.com.au/editorial.asp?key=760
By Lisa Ratcliff/CYCA media
Last year Cagliari, capital of the beautiful island of Sardinia, played host to the glittering finale of the 2010 Audi MedCup Circuit. The gulf of Cagliari was where the final battles were settled and the titles won.
When the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit reaches Cagliari in one week’s time the shimmering waters and engaging mix of breezes will set the scene for the theoretical mid-point of the season, half way through the itinerary of five trophy regattas.
For many of the competitor’s in both the 52 Series and the 40 Series, the goal will be to simply keep on doing what they have been doing, making small improvements. Others still have considerable room for improvement.
Last season Quantum Racing (USA) arrived in Cagliari harbouring hopes of a late catch up on the champions elect Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL). This time the crew which is lead by America’s Cup winner Ed Baird are looking to preserve their 11 points lead at the top of the leaderboard.
“For sure our goal is to leave Cagliari having managed to increase our lead, but we would be pleased to finish with the same lead. Cagliari has consistently proven a tough place to race, we are hoping it will be a little easier than Marseille.” Explains Quantum Racing’s project manager Ed Reynolds (USA).
After finishing second to Germany’s Container, winners of the Marseille Trophy, Reynolds is clear that he was in no way disappointed in their team’s performance in France. “It is quite the opposite in fact. It is always hard at a venue like that to go in a leader, being leader is definitely more difficult. In fact we were happy for example with the three race day when we came in having put just 10 points on the board. We were really happy with that. As leader you just cannot afford to take the risks that others did on a race area like that. We were pleased to be quick but for me it is akin to watching the Tour de France at the moment and seeing how difficult it is to protect the yellow jersey, you cannot take the risks that others do to get up to you. In the end in Marseille we gave up one and a half points to one boat there and extended on the others. And you consider that if Audi All4ONE’s risky call on the final race had not paid off as it did we would have tied on points and won the regatta. It was that close.”
“Let us just say that are cautiously optimistic about Cagliari. We do a lot of work between regattas. One of the things about a box rule is that ‘pick your poison’. You will always be giving up some speed somewhere and you have to choose that area. Consistently we can see where we are strong but have been working hard on the little areas we have seen as exposures.”
A summer mix, changing targets.
High summer in Cagliari sees a really good mix of wind conditions and predominantly flat water. The sea breezes tend to wrap round the points into the big, deep U shaped bay and it is not unusual for the breezes to split and conflict on either side of the course. And the strong Mistral blows offshore from the head of the gulf, accelerating hard down the long miles of flat land to the north.
With a second and first in consecutive regattas Udo Schütz’s Rolf Vroijk designed Container has proven the class act which has so far pushed the American flagged world champions the hardest. But it will be the first time Markus Wieser (GER) has skippered his team at the tricky Sardinian venue but so successful have been their first outings in the class, perhaps the German flagged crew are setting their sights even higher: “We are more than happy so far with the outcomes of the first 52 Series regattas. We had set goals quite high at the start of the season, hoping to finish in the Top 3, but it worked out well for us twice already, so why should be we not change the target?” says Wieser.
“Our strength is the good team, working hard together and having a lot of fun. We have no internal pressure at all. It is so important to enjoy racing together if you want to be successful. You even need to have a laugh on board at times. We planned to do the whole Audi MedCup Circuit with the same crew, so no changes. Never change a winning team!”
Despite a difficult start to their campaign pre-season goals have not been modified much on board Audi Sailing Team powered by All4ONE, skippered by Germany’s multiple Olympic medallist Jochen Schümann. They hope to be much more competitive in Cagliari, a venue he now knows well: “Although you could not see it in the final ranking we really made a big step in Marseille compared to Cascais where we had speed problems with the new boat. To win a race and be so close to another bullet gives us so much more self confidence. We hope to build on that and climb the leaderboard from here.”
“Keeping up with our goal of top three for the 2011 Audi MedCup Circuit will be hard because we already lost many points in these first two events and it is not so likely the leaders will struggle in the future, but we still look to shoot for podium finishes in each regatta.”
In the 40 Series, two wins from two regattas highlights the consistency of the Iberdrola Sailing Team, but they have been pushed hard at each event by different teams: “Our boat is already in Cagliari and ready to go and the team have been racing in J80’s and Laser. Meantime we have been working how to optimise the sails, building a few new ones, something we are allowed to do after ten races. Part of our crew have raced in Cagliari and know they have sailed in tough 20-25 knots conditions.”
“It is evident that the other teams are all improving and it is getting closer. I think that if there was a point at which we had an advantage because of our preparation it is now gone.”
“Our goal for Cagliari is to win the Trophy and stay on top of the standings.” Recounts Iberdrola Sailing Team’s project manager Augustin Zulueta (ESP).”
Racing starts with the 52 Series Practice Race Tuesday, points racing from Wednesday, while the 40 Series Practice Race is on Wednesday and their points racing starts Thursday.
Follow all the racing live on Audi MedCup TV on www.medcup.org.
Quantum Racing lead the TP52 Series after the first day of racing, while Madrid – Caser Seguros’ s perfect hat trick of wins sees them top the GP42 leaderboard.
Quantum Racing (USA) emerged as overall leaders of the Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona after opening with two fifth places and a second on what proved an especially testing first day of racing as the Audi MedCup Circuit competes for the first time ever off the Catalan capital.
As an introduction to a new venue nothing was gained easily in the moderate 9-13 knots NE’ly breezes. With the start line set directly in front of where the Olympic village was for the 1992 Olympic Games, relatively close to the shore, there was an awkward choppy sea kicked back off the beach to contend with. The variable cloud cover moved the wind around from time to time, the breeze varied in strength across the course and the racing for the most part was extremely close with small errors punished heavily in the intense competition.
The Quantum Racing team came back to the dock at the city’s Moll de la Fusta, greeted by huge crowds. After a long day on the water the 2008 Audi MedCup champions looked mildly frazzled but content to have stuck within their budgeted 12 points for the day which leaves them leading by only one point from a trio comprising Emirates Team New Zealand in second, Artemis (SWE) in third and Bribón (ESP) in fourth, whilst Cristabella (GBR) lies fifth.
Hat trick in GP42 Series
In the GP42 Series Madrid Caser Seguros (ESP) kept up a perfect score through all three races in spite of the loss of skipper Jose Maria van der Ploeg. The 1992 Finn Olympic gold medallist had to miss out the opening race of the series off his home city after sustaining an ankle injury before the start.
As if to highlight how hard it was to stay regular in these conditions, in the TP52 fleet, Britain’s Cristabella took second in the first race, won the second race and then rode the rollercoaster down to an 11th in the third. Three different boats won races.
After weak openings in Cascais and Marseille, Emirates Team New Zealand seemed to despatch any talk of a first day hoodoo when they won the first race, profiting when early leaders Bribón let them squeeze inside them at the leeward gate.
In the third race the all-Italian Luna Rossa team read the top of the first beat to perfection and lead Quantum Racing across the finish line to post their first win of their Audi MedCup Circuit TP52 campaign.
In the light of losing out the first planned day of racing there will now be no Coastal Race at this regatta.
GP42′s: three wins for Madrid – Caser Seguros
Despite losing tactician Jose Maria van der Ploeg (ESP) to an ankle injury just prior to Race 1 today, Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP) led by helmsman Paolo Cian (ITA) took the early regatta lead. With a perfect 1-1-1, the team built a solid five point cushion over Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP).
Van der Ploeg had to be taken by RIB off the boat pre-start and the team substituted sailing coach Carlos Llamas.
The unusual big wave, light breeze conditions put a premium on teamwork as well as raw speed, and today Madrid Caser-Seguros showed supremacy in both.
“We worked hard to optimize our weight, rig, and sail settings,” said Cian, “and today it paid off. We had the speed when we needed it, and there were a few situations when it was critical.”
Today’s three wins vaults them up into being tied in points but taking the lead in the tie-break with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero for the overall series standings.
Quotes of the day:
Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper helm Quantum Racing (USA):
“Consistency is the key here for sure. The middle race was a little frustrating for us because we lost two boats within a hundred metres of the finish line, and so that was hard race because we had sailed really, really well. But then in the last race, Ado, Kevin, Tom and all the guys did really nice work and we battled. One of the things we talked about as a team is that if you go 1,1,2 and then 9,10, then the 1,1.2’s don’t really do a lot for you. So our goal for the day was to come out with 12 points or less and we did that.”
“Oh man, it was really hard. The last race was 12-13, the middle race was about 11-13 and it was really, really lumpy. The NE’ly breeze was bouncing off the beach and the sea wall and we had a lot of chop and standing waves, and that on top of everything else when you are competing against really, really good sailors, you have to contend with that. But it is hard for everyone. But that is only one day and we enjoy that for a couple of minutes and move on to thinking about the next ones.”
Ray Davies (NZL), tactician Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“ We had a good day today, we are happy with the day, one point off the lead at the end of the day. We’ll take that any time. At the start of the day we obviously started really strong but in the last race we slipped back on the first run, losing a couple of boats there and that was sort of a turning point in that race for us.”
“In these particular conditions everyone is going to have difficult tricky races, the big thing downwind is you can get a surge on a wave and the situation can change quite dramatically. We got on the wrong side of a couple down the first run of the last race and lost a couple of boats there.”
“It’s good to have a good first day, we haven’t had a good first day all year yet.”
Simon Fisher (GBR), navigator Cristabella (GBR):
“ It was a pretty difficult day today, complicated with all the wind not a very typical Barcelona day really so there was a lot to think about, to try and manage in terms of the weather. We had gradient breeze and sea breeze a lot of clouds coming over the course. It was a tough day for the tacticians. Nevertheless we had a very good day. We had a second and a first, and unfortunately we couldn’t sort of carry it through to the last one and didn’t do as well in the final race but it was a good day performance.”
“But we are out there in the hunt so that’s our objective.”
Jose Maria van der Ploeg (ESP), taken off Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP):
“It’s nothing really serious, but I think that leaving the boat [before racing] was the right call. We have to see how it evolves, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to sail tomorrow.” Regarding the team’s winning today without him: “It’s been great. I think that’s the best gift they could give me. I’m really happy!”
Paolo Cian (ITA) helmsman Madrid Caser-Seguros (ESP):
“We worked hard to optimize our weight, rig, and sail settings, and today it paid off. We had the speed when we needed it, and there were a few situations when it was critical.”
Camper Regatta – Conde de Godó Trophy – Barcelona
1. Quantum Racing (USA), 5+5+2= 12 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 1+4+8= 13
3. Artemis (SWE), 7+2+4= 13
4. Bribón (ESP), 3+3+7= 13
5. Cristabella (GBR), 2+1+11= 14
6. TeamOrigin (GBR), 10+6+3= 19
7. Luna Rossa (ITA), 9+11+1= 21
8. Matador (ARG), 4+9+9= 22
9. Synergy (RUS), 6+10+6= 22
10. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 12(DNC)+8+5= 25
11. Bigamist 7 (POR), 8+7+10= 25
1. Madrid – Caser Seguros (ESP), 1+1+1= 3 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 2+4+2= 8
3. Iberdrola (ESP), 3+2+3= 8
4. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), 4+3+5= 12
5. Península Petroleum (GBR), 5+5+4= 14